Suburban Atlanta: Where Parking Is Required But Sidewalks Are Not

Photo: ATLUrbanist
The sidewalk disappears at this bus stop on Buford Highway. Photo: ATLUrbanist

Buford Highway north of Atlanta is the deadliest road for pedestrians in the region. Though lined with residences of people with low incomes, the high-speed, high-traffic road has no continuous sidewalk. Lacking dedicated infrastructure, pedestrians have worn paths in the grass all around it. (See more photos below.)

Darin at ATLUrbanist says these paths are a stark illustration of inequality built into the region’s transportation system.

Those cars are in spaces that are mandated as part of minimum parking requirements — requirements that don’t seem to have a relative in regard to pedestrian infrastructure at bus stops.

This is a good metaphor for the second-class state of pedestrians in car-centric places throughout Metro Atlanta. Cars receive a luxurious abundance of infrastructure for both moving and parking, while pedestrians and transit users fight for a safe place on the edges.

You can see “desire paths” like this — where people have worn down the grass in a median from repeatedly walking through it — along many roads in the metro. I remember seeing them along Canton Highway in Cobb County, where I grew up.

Take a look at these desire paths worn into the sidewalk-free Buford Highway turf:

Buford Highway running north of Atlanta is the deadliest road for pedestrians in the region. Despite a high density of pedestrians nearby the road has no sidewalks. Pedestrians have worn paths all around it. Photo: ATLUrbanist
Photo: The Buford Highway Project
Photo: ATLUrbanist
Photo: ATLUrbanist
Photo: The Buford Highway Project
Photo: The Buford Highway Project

Elsewhere on the Network today: Family Friendly Cities notes that Seattle is opening a new downtown school. And The University of Oklahoma Institute for Quality Communities shares before and after maps showing the damage done by highways and urban renewal in Northeast cities.